I believe we can all agree that this world wasn’t created just to make us happy!
When I was 15 years old my mom had given me a book called “The Road Less Travel,” by the author Scott M. Peck. To this day, I will never forget the three words that he wrote at the very beginning of the book; "Life is Difficult!” (qtd.).
None of us can escape the daily pressures of everyday life. Most of us probably know by now, what it feels like to be disappointed….the painfulness of embarrassment…the sting of rejection and betrayal….the loss of a loved one…and the sorrow of failure.
But, there always comes a point in our lives when everything seems to come to a boiling head, and our life seems out of control. Deep inside we want to scream; “ENOUGH. I have had ENOUGH!”
What is it in your own life today that is out of control?
* Is there a financial need?
* A relationship crisis?
* Do you hate the place you work, or the people you work with?
* Do you ever wish it wasn’t there, and would just go away?
* Perhaps, you have continually asked God to remove it? Yet, it still remains.
You see, the apostle Paul had a problem. He tells us in second Corinthians 12:7-8 that God gave him a “thorn in the flesh.”
“To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away” (NIV Bible).
If you look around this room right now, there is one thing that we all have in common. We all have, or had, our own "thorn in the flesh.”
The word for “thorn” in second Corinthians 12:7-8, means; a “stake, barb, or splinter.” For Paul, in this context it was a “thorn (stake) in the flesh”
(NIV Bible, notes).
Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” was a great burden, inflicted pain on him. It was a trial for him, both physically and mentally. Yet, it seemed it would never go away. He even asked to have it removed three times!
In a way Paul’s “thorn” resembles the redemptive cross of Jesus Christ, when He was praying in the garden Gethsemane, when he faced the cross in his flesh.
(found in Matthew 26:39-44).
Paul states, it was carried out by satan, and claims it is authorized by God. Because God gave Paul the “thorn” for two reasons: “to keep me from being conceited;”= prideful; and, “Because of these surpassing divine revelations”
(NIV Bible, 2 Corinthians 12:7-8).
Basically, because God has been extremely good to Paul, it protected Paul from Paul. We need to keep in mind that Paul’s “thorn” was part of God’s plan. Because nothing can touch us that is not part of God’s plans for our lives!
God sent it for Paul’s good. Satan was only the means to keep Paul humble.
Ever noticed, that the very things we tend to dread in life are the very things the apostle Paul “delighted” in?
“I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (NIV Bible, 2 Corinthians 12:10).
The secret for Paul’s contentment was his relationship with the living exalted Christ! (read Philippians 4:11-13).
I think about my own “thorns” I have today, and all I can tell you is they hurt me deeply, more than you will ever know.
At times, I have wondered if God really knew what he was doing.
Recently, in my quiet time I was reminded me of three specific men in the Bible; Moses, Job, and Elijah. Each one of these men went through very similar situations, and all three of them asked God; “Why Me?”
Yet, God always counteracted all three of their questions with a loving reminder of ‘Who’ He Is.
What God in the end basically said to all three of these heroes of faith in the Bible, I believe applies to every Christian today: “You can trust me! I created you, and I will take care of you. I have a purpose for you!”
How can we apply this to our life today?
1. Whatever drives us closer to God is the very thing we need to thank Him for!
“God gives us grace to face the music even when we don’t like the tune”
2. Just as Paul’s “thorn” was meant for Paul, your “thorn” was meant for you!
Ultimately, it is for our own good, and He has a purpose for it. God is more concerned with our character than our comfort!
3. Weakness = Strength: Weakness is strength if Christ is in it!
Never be afraid to be, or appear weak!
The promise God gave to Paul in Second Corinthians, is also a promise for each and every one of us today.
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness”
(NIV Bible, 2 Corinthians 12:9).
My = My God
Is = always actively Present!
SUFFICIENT = Enough!
I ask you to consider…If God never removes your “thorn in the flesh,” is He enough For You?
"You can never hold a rose - if you are unwilling to be pricked by thorns”
Barker, ed. Kenneth L. New International Study Bible. Ed. Barker. Grand Rapids:
Zondervan, 2008 update. Print.
Peck, Scott M. The Road Less Travel. Simon & Schuster Adult Publishing Group,